Game of Thrones 506 recap/ review
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
Recaps contain spoilers for “Game of Thrones” and “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
After an episode that displayed little excitement in “Kill the Boy,” director Jeremy Podeswa’s second episode of “Game of Thrones” featured more shock value than Jorah’s greyscale discovery, but little more. The episode, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” leaves out Jon, Daenerys, Stannis, Melisandre, Brienne, Davos, BRAN, Pod, and Sam. As the series surpasses the books more and more with HBO hiring directors outside of the usual GoT circle, fans have to wonder if the popular series has peaked in quality. Podeswa has directed many acclaimed programs like “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Walking Dead,” “American Horror Story,” and “The Newsroom,” however he just can’t capture the magic of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy realm like directors Alex Graves, Michelle MacLaren, Daniel Minahan, Alan Taylor, or Alik Sakharov. Luckily for fans, David Nutter (“The Reins of Castamere,” “Mhysa”) returns to direct the penultimate and finale episodes, closing the program’s fifth season on HBO.
Podeswa opens on Arya, still in the House of Black and White, washing a corpse like she learned earlier this season. She notices the forbidden door is open after some men collect the body, but the girl who taught her how to clean bodies closes it before the girl formerly known as Arya Stark can enter, telling the newbie that she isn’t ready yet. Arya asserts she’s ready to play “the game” because she has lived and worked there for weeks now just cleaning bodies and scrubbing floors. The other girl tells Arya that she’s already lost the game, but decides to ask her who she is anyway. “No one,” Arya replies, thinking she has the right answer. Arya asks about the girl’s identity and hears a sketchy story about a Westerosi Lord’s young daughter who ran away from home after the Faceless Men helped her kill her evil stepmother. The girl really wants to know, however, if Arya even believes her story. Before Arya can answer, the girl instructs her to get back to work. The camera stays on Arya as Jaqen wakes her that night to ask her who she is. Arya tries to tell Jaqen her own story, but can’t accurately do it. She lies in places of her story like saying her “father died in battle” or that she killed a stable boy by driving her sword through his back. Every time she gets a part of her own tale incorrect, Jaqen whips her. When mentioning the Hound, Arya says she hated him but Jaqen whips her. She insists Arya Stark hated the Hound, but Jaqen merely suggests that “A girl lies to me, to the many-faced god, to herself.” Arya Stark, whoever she was, loved the Hound. He asks her if she still wants to be no one and she answers in the affirmative, but still receives a wallop. She screams, refusing to play “this stupid game,” but Jaqen informs her that they never stop playing.
On seashore, Jorah Mormont inspects the greyscale illness he contracted at the end of “Kill the Boy” last week. Tyrion wonders if Jorah is the world’s worst travelling companion which upsets Jorah, who wants to know why Tyrion is even in Essos. Tyrion explains that he killed his father, Tywin, because he wanted to hang him for a crime he didn’t commit and bedded the woman he loved. Jorah seems sympathetic toward Tyrion until his travelling companion points out that even though both of their fathers are dead, the Old Bear was a far better man than Tywin. However, Jorah hadn’t heard about his father’s betrayal and Tyrion ruins his day even more than before when he just had greyscale. The youngest Lannister looks sincerely remorseful when he realizes that Jorah didn’t know yet. The camera then takes us back to Arya scrubbing the floors when a man brings his dying daughter inside and rests her next to the fountain. He approaches Arya and explains that his daughter has seen all the healers in Braavos which resulting in nothing except bankrupting him. He just wants his daughter’s suffering to end and Arya compassionately accepts his request as Jaqen gazes from afar. Arya tells the girl a lie—that she was dying before her father brought her to the House of Black and White to drink the healing fountain waters. The girl drinks the water as the camera fades to Arya preparing her corpse. Jaqen appears from the forbidden room and turns, leaving the door open for his young apprentice of death. She follows him into the room of faces, an enormous mausoleum of sorts that houses and displays the removed faces of corpses who presumably died at the temple. Arya walks about in amazement as the face displays begin at eyelevel and work up columns all the way to the roof. Jaqen asks her once more if she’s ready to become no one, but when she hesitates to answer, he finally recognizes that Arya is, in fact, ready to be someone else. Will she have to wear a new face, in that case?
As Jorah and Tyrion continue their journey toward Daenerys, Tyrion asks Jorah why he thinks the Queen should rule Westeros or even what difference she would make, given her family history of insane kings. (For example, her father King Aerys II Targaryen, “The Mad King.”) Jorah explains that his former cynicism was not unlike Tyrion’s current cynicism until he saw the Khaleesi emerge unburned from the fire that hatched three dragons. Mormont also adds that she’s the rightful heir, but Tyrion still contemplates the difference Daenerys’ will make if a thousand years of peace are once again upheaved by war. After seeing Drogon in the last episode, will Tyrion witness the same “Come to Jesus” moment as his travelling companion did when he eventually, presumably meets the queen? Jorah pulls Tyrion behind a rock when he notices a slave ship, but it’s too late. Several slavers gang up on them as the camera jumps ahead in time to Jorah getting a hearty punch to the face. They decide he’s fit for a galley slave, but that they should kill Tyrion. Here is where “Game of Thrones” loses a lot of credibility with many critics and fans—the lead slaver decrees they cut off Tyrion’s penis because “a dwarf’s c**k has magic powers.” Tyrion convinces them to let him live because there would be no way to substantiate that a random, severed penis ever belonged to a dwarf when trying to sell it if he was already dead and forgotten. He also convinces them that Jorah is too valuable for the kitchen as he is a gifted warrior who defeated and killed a Dothraki bloodrider in single combat. Tyrion is only alive because of a contrived penis superstition. At this point, it’s safe to say HBO doesn’t care about the quality of “Game of Thrones” in relation to the convenience of streamlining. Despite all of this stupidity, Peter Dinklage and Iain Glen actually act this scene out pretty damn well given the writing and at least add an air of acceptability in terms of plot progression.
In King’s Landing, Littlefinger makes his way about the cobblestone streets toward the queen mother before Brother Lancel (formerly Lancel Lannister) interrupts Lord Baelish to explain just how much the city changed since he last left and the sparrows took over. Littlefinger takes a step, but Lancel lays a hand on his shoulder and warns him that there is no place for flesh peddling in the new order. “We both peddle fantasies, Brother Lancel. Mine just happen to be entertaining.” We stay with Littlefinger as he finds himself in a long-anticipated meeting with Cersei where he advises her to stay out of Roose Bolton and Stannis Baratheon’s combat in the north and take over the North with her own forces when the winning team licks their wounds. He also admits that he knows of Sansa Stark at Winterfell and her betrothal to Ramsey. They strike a deal where Cersei will name Lord Baelish Warden of the North if his forces from the Vale of Arryn can take Winterfell and mount Sansa’s head on a spike. In Dorne, Princess Myrcella Baratheon and Prince Trystane Martell share a loving, sweet moment in a palace garden talking about their betrothal and how much they like each other. These two are a version of Romeo and Juliet—star-crossed lovers from feuding, violent families who can’t see anything beyond their teenage hormones. High in the castle, Doran Martell and Areo Hotah view the young lovers and Doran comments that the two lovebirds have no idea how dangerous their arrangement is. The two men agree to defend the lovers with Areo stating that he certainly remembers how to use his axe (to which he’s married in the novels).
Jaime and Bronn enter the picture on horseback, dressed in the garb of the soldiers they fought on the beach from “The Sons of the Harpy” as Bronn sings a Dornish folk song. They spot a convoy headed for Sunspear and decide to blend in with them. We then jump to the Sand Snakes listening to Ellaria Sand recite the titular words of House Martell, “Unbowed, unbent, unbroken.” Why did we select someone outside House Martell to breathe this line to give it depth? Seriously, this episode hurt to watch (and not just for the final, shocking scene). This scene, again, accomplishes nothing because we already knew that Ellaria had something up her sleeve. This show needs the Martells it has omitted. As the Sand Snakes run about the castle to nab Myrcella, Jaime and Bronn find her making out with her intended among the gardens. Myrcella doesn’t want to leave with her “Uncle Jaime” but Bronn knocks out Trystane to limit her options before the Sand Snakes converge on the location and a poorly choreographed fight scene between the Sand Snakes and the rescue duo ensues to make sure you know that you’re watching the worst episode of “Game of Thrones” to date. One of the Sand Snakes grabs the Princess during the melee and almost gets away before Areo Hotah and the palace guards arrive to quell the fighting. Hotah raises his axe to Jaime and tells him, “When you were whole, it would have been a good fight.” Indeed. Jaime and Bronn drop their weapons before the palace guard runs to arrest Ellaria, too.
The Queen of Thorns arrives in King’s Landing and doesn’t care for the smell. She and her granddaughter walk the castle and speak about why now is so suspicious a time to arrest Loras for his “pillow-biting” when the entire seven kingdoms have known about this for quite some time without action. Podeswa stays with Olenna when she visits Cersei to appeal on her grandson’s behalf. Cersei, however, points out that the sparrows arrested Loras and that she has no say in the matter. The queen mother then sardonically states that Olenna has nothing to worry about Loras because the charges obviously aren’t true. At Loras’ inquest, both Loras and Margaery testify that he isn’t homosexual. However, the High Sparrow produces a surprise witness, Olyvar from Littlefinger’s brothel, who testifies that he had sex with Loras and that Margaery saw them together once. The High Sparrow determines this enough evidence to find Loras guilty, but the queen, as well, for lying before the gods. Both are taken away as Tommen is too chicken to say a word. For the time being, it seems like Cersei won.
At Winterfell, Sansa gazes into a mirror when Myranda appears to bathe the bride-to-be for her wedding later that evening, washing out all the dye that made “Dark Sansa.” As she cleans Sansa’s hair, Myranda tries to scare the Stark girl with stories of girls who have bored Ramsay in the past. Sansa, now a seasoned player in the game of thrones, immediately calls Myranda on trying to frighten her, stating that Winterfell is her territory and correctly identifying Myranda’s love for Ramsay and subsequent jealousy of Sansa. She excuses Myranda and later dresses up for the wedding, looking positively Elizabethan in the pale make-up department. Reek arrives to take her arm, but she refuses—mostly on the grounds that she still thinks he killed her brothers. He tries to convince her by saying that Ramsay will abuse him, but she doesn’t care. They walk out to the Godswood for a small, snowy wedding ceremony that would look beautiful if the implications and participants weren’t so demented. When they arrive at the marital bed with Reek, Ramsay asks if Sansa’s a virgin or if Tyrion took that on her first wedding night. She tells him that Tyrion was kind, gentle, and that she retains her innocence. Ramsay then reveals his true colors to Sansa, telling her to disrobe as Reek will watch the girl he once knew become a woman. Reek, too, looks visibly shaken by Ramsay’s words (more than usual). Sansa fumbles with her clothes to delay Ramsay, who can’t stand the wait and rips the stitching on her dress, forcing her to bend over the bed. Ramsay then rapes Sansa in Winterfell. As she cries and screams in pain, the camera settles on a tearful Reek and fades to credits.
After that shocking scene, the worst “Game of Thrones” episode mercifully ends. Granted, that last scene with Sansa, Reek, and Ramsay was shocking, but it was also predictable. We all know Ramsay’s a monster, we merely saw him as a different monster this week. Tyrion’s alive because his penis presumably has magic powers, and apparently “Unbowed, unbent, unbroken” are the words of anybody simply close to the Martells. This show has ruined Martin’s concept of Dornish characters. Seeing the room faces really gave the episode a sense of mystery that perhaps would have been better earned later in the episode. The scenes in episodes from the show’s fifth season bleed from territory to territory without the dynamic of returning back to characters later in a given episode.